Airtpr’s Leo White & Poppy Gosling’s fourth instalment
Apparently we’re halfway through the tour now, it doesn’t seem possible! Time has flown by.
The daily routine is pretty much exactly as I described in the last article, 24 hours on/24 hours off; Working as a sort of intermediate platform between the REME, Pilots, and signals, to make sure that the aircraft remain serviceable and flying. We’ve been quite busy recently, we have just experienced almost a week of horrendous weather – more rain than the country normally sees in a year, biting cold winds that felt like they were hurricane force, and the most amazing lightening storms. Apache’s don’t seem to like the cold anymore than their groundies do! So everyone has had to work harder to keep them in the air.
There have been several events recently that definitely deserve a write up. The first is unfortunately a little bit depressing. As you may have heard in the news, a Gurkha serving with 1 Yorks was fatally wounded out here a few weeks ago. Whenever a soldier dies in theatre, a vigil is held in their honour. Like a remembrance parade, it’s a chance to show respect to the fallen soldier. My team were off shift, so attended LCPL Gurung’s vigil. It was a touching ceremony. All the different representatives formed up, and listened as his best friends, and bosses spoke about him. It was a serious reminder of the fact we are actually in a warzone, sometimes it’s easy to get too comfortable. The ceremony was finished with two loud explosions from the massive gun behind us. Signalling the start and finish of 2 minutes silence. Giving the soldier the send off from theatre he deserved.
On a more positive note, a few days later we had a CSE show. Basically a group of performers – 2 Comedians, ‘Morale Booster’ dancers and a band – come out to theatre and put on shows for the troops in loads of different locations, all over the country. It was a brilliant night, we went to the open-air show on our 24 hour off shift. The comedians started on stage and were hilarious, they completely woke the crowd up, occasionally taking breaks so that the dancers could perform. Which completely..entertained..the lads. With everyone totally hyped up, the band eventually made it onto the stage. Everyone in the audience ditched their seats and rushed to the stage. At this point, my team were all stood on different tiers of a picnic table, so had a complete overall view of the crowd bouncing, I mean..dancing!?
Maybe 3 songs into the bands set of (really good) covers, the entire crowd turned to crowd surfing. Which is when probably the most traumatic event of my life occurred…
My team knew I didn’t want to stage dive/crowd surf – so towards the end of the set, they snuck up behind me and threw me onto the crowd, who then transported me to the stage expecting me to jump off. Which I did, feeling slightly relieved that the ordeal was over, they would have to put me down now, surely!? I was so wrong, they carried me all over the crowd again, and then dropped me back onto the stage! I honestly thought it was never going to end, but they did finally put me back on the ground, where I stood wondering if I was going to need counselling. Looking back though, it was probably one of the most funny (albeit sober) nights of my life. Everyone arrived on shift the next day completely grinning, and light hearted.
A few of us have also been on a visit to the American flightline to visit the CH53’s, otherwise known as the ‘Sea Stallions’. We were allowed to jump all over the aircraft and interrogate the US Marines who work with/on them, (whilst trying to persuade them to give us USMC jumpers, and trackie bottoms). It was interesting just to see how a different rotary wing flightline works, and to pose with their weapon systems for ‘ally’ photos.
I should probably start wrapping this up, while I’m writing, I’m missing out on valuable Op Bronze time! (yes, the weather has finally started to warm up, so no more moaning from us-for a few weeks anyway). Catch up with everyone soon!
For more imnformation about 655 Squadron Army Air Corps contact Capt N Jennings email@example.com